Fall's cultural calendar is especially ripe with classical music: world-renowned orchestras visit Carnegie Hall, Danish music is showcased at the New York Philharmonic and Flushing Town Hall, and intimate recitals can be relished at The Frick Collection. You'll have a chance to hear Johann Sebastian Bach played by stellar performers at the White Light Festival, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the 92nd Street Y and (Le) Poisson Rouge. Experimental and more avant-garde experiences can be had at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and for what's new on the opera scene, you'll want to follow New York City Opera's lead with its Vox Festival. Prize-winning soloists and up-and-coming musicians will grace stages as diverse as downtown nightclubs and a floating barge in the East River. Read on to find out more in our roundup.
Seventh Avenue and West 57th Street, 212-247-7800, Midtown West, Manhattan
Some of the world's best orchestras regularly come to New York City to play at Carnegie Hall, and fall is no exception. The season opens with the Chicago Symphony (October 3–5) and continues with visits from the Cleveland (November 13) and Philadelphia Orchestras. Expect an extra kick from the “fabulous Philadelphians,” who will be showing off their new music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin (October 23). A hot ticket is sure to be the imaginative and deeply artistic pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who will play the Debussy Preludes (November 15). For classical music gravitas, don't miss Ludwig van Beethoven's Missa solemnis, performed by The Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique (November 16), and for sheer exuberance, there's the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, led by Gustavo Dudamel (December 10–11), whose performances are at the heart of Carnegie's Voices From Latin America Festival.
New York Philharmonic
Avery Fisher Hall, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, 212-875-5656, Upper West Side, Manhattan
New York's hometown band, the New York Philharmonic, will feature a hometown pianist, Emanuel Ax, as its artist-in-residence this season. Ax kicks off a concert series with a provocative pairing of Bach's Keyboard Concerto in D Minor with Arnold Schoenberg's Piano Concerto, composed in 1942 (October 4–6). Alan Gilbert conducts. You can also get to know more about the music of Danish composer Carl Nielsen, as the orchestra presents his Flute Concerto, featuring Robert Langevin, and his Violin Concerto, with soloist Nikolaj Znaider (October 10–13). For piano fireworks, there's a performance of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, featuring prize-winning Russian pianist Nikolai Lugansky, who is making his Philharmonic debut (November 1–3); and a focus on Johannes Brahms brings Music Director Emeritus Kurt Masur back to conduct the composer's Symphony no. 2 (November 8–10 and 13) and nos. 3 and 4 (November 15–17).
The Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, 212-362-6000, Upper West Side, Manhattan
A lovesick young man hopes a magic potion will help him win over the woman he pines for in Gaetano Donizetti's comic opera L'Elisir d'Amore (“The Elixir of Love”). The Met presents a new production directed by Bartlett Sher with Anna Netrebko as the woman desired. One of the most eagerly anticipated operas comes from British composer Thomas Adès, who is making his company debut conducting The Met premiere of his opera The Tempest. Calling it a “box of magic tricks,” director Robert Lepage, fresh off the Ring cycle, has set the opera in the interior of 18th- century La Scala opera house. Simon Keenlyside sings the role of Prospero (October 23). Sondra Radvanovsky and Dmitri Hvorostovsky star in a new production of Giuseppe Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera, with a dreamlike set by David Alden that places it in early-20th-century Sweden (November 8), and New Year's Eve at The Met brings the premiere of Donizetti's Maria Stuarda, a production by David McVicar that stars Joyce DiDonato as the doomed Mary, Queen of Scots (December 31).
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
70 Lincoln Center Plaza, 212-875-5788, Upper West Side, Manhattan
Pianist Jeremy Denk has delighted classical fans not only with his playing but with his entertaining and often humorous blog Think Denk—so it will be fun to hear him dissect Bach, whom he has been obsessed with since he was a youngster. Denk is a special guest at The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's annual Baroque Festival, which is presenting him in six of Bach's keyboard concertos (December 2 and 4). The annual Baroque Festival is an ever-popular feature of The Chamber Music Society each December and will conclude with its perennial performance of the complete Bach Brandenburg Concertos on December 16 and 18.
White Light Festival
Lincoln Center, 212-875-5000, Upper West Side, Manhattan
Lincoln Center's festival dedicated to “illuminating the many dimensions of our interior lives” manifests itself in a wide range of musical experiences. Superstar organist Cameron Carpenter is sure to rattle the rafters in Alice Tully Hall with Bach's Toccata in F (October 28), which kicks off an all-Bach program. In contrast, there's the poetic playing of pianist Paul Lewis in an all–Franz Schubert program (October 20) and, finally, Gustav Mahler's contemplation of death, his Ninth Symphony, as interpreted by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra (November 18).
92nd Street Y
1395 Lexington Ave., 212-415-5500, Upper East Side, Manhattan
Playing and interpreting the music of Bach has been a cornerstone of pianist András Schiff's career. He'll give fans and newcomers alike the chance to hear him perform Bach's complete Well Tempered Clavier Book 1 on October 27 and Book Two on November 1. More than 30 years of music-making have honed the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio into one of the foremost classical ensembles. They'll display their synergy in the Brahms Piano Trio no. 1 and other works on November 14 and 15. The doubly talented Julian Rachlin trades off on violin and viola in a pair of recitals featuring the music of Brahms (December 5 and 8), and with an eye to the next generation, check out Israeli-American pianist Inon Barnaton, who makes his 92Y solo-recital debut with an eclectic program on December 6.
Brooklyn Academy of Music
30 Lafayette Ave., 718-636-4100, Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn
One of the more unusual concerts this fall is the New York premiere of Michael Gordon's Timber, a sextet for six wooden simantras, which look like common two-by-fours—that's right, the kind you buy at the lumberyard. Striking the boards will be the ensemble Mantra Percussion (December 13–15). Also at BAM, there's a new work by Pulitzer Prize winner David Lang entitled love fail. It features the female a cappella ensemble Anonymous 4 (December 6–8), and cellist Maya Beiser is the featured player in a cello opera she wrote called Elsewhere (October 17–20).
Concerts at The Frick Collection
1 E. 70th St., 212-547-0715, Upper East Side, Manhattan
The elegant Music Room at The Frick Collection is known for showcasing exceptional musical talent (the hot, young UK pianist Benjamin Grosvenor recently made his debut there). Chamber music concerts and recitals are held in a salon-like setting. This season, you can hear Russian cellist Boris Andrianov (October 14), award-winning British tenor Toby Spence (November 11) and Swedish pianist Roland Pöntinen (December 2).
American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall
Seventh Avenue and West 57th Street, 212-247-7800, Midtown West, Manhattan
The orchestra founded by Leopold Stokowski is recognizing its 50th anniversary with a celebration at Carnegie Hall, which will commence with Stokowski's own arrangement of “The Star Spangled Banner” and include Mahler's epic Symphony no. 8, with The Collegiate Chorale—all this at 1962 prices, to boot. Tickets range from $1.50 to $7 (October 26).
Fulton Ferry Landing, 718-624-2083, DUMBO, Brooklyn
A floating barge at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge provides for an unconventional concert hall with great views of Lower Manhattan. Throughout the fall, top-notch chamber ensembles will perform both traditional and more contemporary works. There are free neighborhood family concerts every Saturday afternoon.
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Carnegie Hall, Seventh Avenue and West 57th Street, 212-247-7800, Midtown West, Manhattan
Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers recently purchased one of the most expensive violins in the world, an instrument thought to have been owned by Napoleon Bonaparte. Even if she doesn't play it on December 1, when she's the soloist in Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, expect a priceless performance.
New York City Opera
Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, New York University, 566 La Guardia Place, 212-998-4941, Greenwich Village, Manhattan
New York City Opera's showcase for new contemporary opera, the Vox Festival (November 8), will present excerpts from six operas, including John Zorn's The Holy Visions, about a samurai seeking enlightenment, and one based on Kate Chopin's classic novel The Awakening.
(Le) Poisson Rouge
158 Bleecker St., 212-505-3474, Greenwich Village, Manhattan
New York's hip downtown nightclub also plays host to classical concerts. Acclaimed Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt has chosen the venue for two Bach programs: Goldberg Variations and extracts from Art of Fugue (both October 28); and the Weilerstein Trio, featuring MacArthur Foundation grant–winning cellist Alisa Weilerstein, plays piano trios by Leoš Janáček and Antonín Dvořák (November 16).
Flushing Town Hall
137-35 Northern Blvd., 718-463-7700, Flushing, Queens
Flushing Town Hall, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, is a multi-arts center that includes classical music in its roster of concerts. One of the highlights this fall is the premiere of the new American chamber opera Lilith: Mother of Dreams, exploring the Jewish myth of the first wife of Adam (October 28). Then, students of the Royal Danish Conservatory dig in to a program of music by Danish composers, including works by Carl Nielsen (October 31).